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J Rheumatol. 2003 Jan;30(1):160-6.

Health related quality of life among adults reporting arthritis: analysis of data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, US, 1996-99.

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Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



To characterize health related quality of life (HRQOL) among people with and without self-reported arthritis in the general population by selected demographic and behavior characteristics.


We analyzed data from a cross sectional random-digit telephone survey [the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)] of civilian noninstitutionalized adults aged 18 years or older from 15 states and Puerto Rico, all of which used an optional arthritis survey module for one or more years from 1996 through 1999. We compared HRQOL among people with arthritis, defined as chronic joint symptoms (CJS) or doctor-diagnosed arthritis, those within one of 3 arthritis subgroups (i.e., only doctor-diagnosed arthritis, only CJS, and both doctor-diagnosed arthritis and CJS), and those without arthritis.


On an age-adjusted basis, respondents with arthritis had significantly worse HRQOL than respondents without arthritis. Members of all 3 arthritis subgroups had significantly worse HRQOL than those without arthritis. Those with both CJS and doctor-diagnosed arthritis had consistently worse HRQOL than those with only CJS, who in turn had worse HRQOL than those with only doctor-diagnosed arthritis. In some of the demographic and behavioral subgroups, HRQOL differences between those with and without arthritis greatly exceeded the differences for the overall study.


Because many adults report arthritis and because arthritis substantially worsens their HRQOL, HRQOL measures like those in the BRFSS may be useful in monitoring the burden of arthritis and in tracking the success of population interventions for arthritis.

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